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Lady Bears nab 5 recruits in early signing

Nov. 10, 2005

by RIAZ DHANANI, sports editor

The defending NCAA champion Lady Bears basketball team added five recruits to its roster on Wednesday, the first day of the college signing period.

Baylor targeted players from all over the country and succeeded. Head Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson announced that Jessika Bradley, Latara Darrett, Whitney Jones, Kaitlin Oberg and Danielle Wilson signed National Letters of Intent.

Mulkey said winning the national championship in 2005 made recruiting much easier.

"We're very excited about our recruiting class. They come with high accolades," Mulkey said. "I'm not a coach that gets too excited about numbers next to a prospect's name, but they are very good basketball players and they are going to help us maintain and continue to be competitive. Winning the national championship certainly exposed our program and our university."

Jessica Bradley, a 6-foot-3-inch forward/post from Sacramento, Calif., is ranked 45th nationally and 12th at her position by All-Star Girls Report. Bradley averaged 15.9 points, nine rebounds and three blocks a game as a junior.

Baylor signed another California prospect, 5-foot-10-inch guard Latara Darrett from Don Lugo High School in Chino. Darrett averaged 19.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.6 steals as a junior. She ranks 12th nationally and third in her position at guard in the nation, according to All-Star Girls Report.

Whitney Jones, the other guard Baylor signed, is from Louisiana, Mulkey's home state. Jones led West Monroe High School to a Class 5A state championship in 2004 and was named 5A State Player of the Year in Louisiana. Jones averaged 21.3 points, seven rebounds and 3.8 steals a game as a junior.

Kaitlin Oberg, a 6-foot-2-inch forward from West Islip, N.Y., joins Baylor after being selected to the Adidas Top-Ten All-American Camp. Oberg was a member of the U.S. Select team versus the China Junior National team in 2004. She averaged 8.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks as a junior at St. John the Baptist High School.

Oberg's teammate Danielle Wilson, a 6-foot-3-inch post from Bay Shore, N.Y., adds size and athleticism to the team. Wilson averaged 21 points and 14 rebounds a game as a junior at St. John the Baptist High school. Wilson is ranked No. 32 nationally and fifth at her position, according to All-Star Girls Report. Wilson also played with Oberg on the U.S. Select team versus China Junior National team in 2004 and 2002.

Mulkey is happy with the recruits so far.

"The five players that signed to play basketball at Baylor are quality players as well as quality people," Mulkey said in a news release. "Their addition will help us continue to keep our program at a level of respect and a level that allows us to compete each year for the Big 12 Conference and NCAA championships. With this group, we add size as well as tremendous athletic perimeter players."

Recruiting, however, is not over for the Lady Bears. The early signing period extends until Nov. 16, and Mulkey has a little more time to build one of the best recruiting classes in the country.

"We hope we are not finished," Mulkey said. "While I don't put much stock in rankings of players until they've proven themselves on the collegiate level, this will probably be one of the top recruiting classes nationally."

Veteran player leaves

Former guard Chisa Ononiwu, a Houston sophomore, chose to leave the team this week. Coaches and players were hesitant to comment on the decision.

Mulkey was not interested in elaborating and made it as simple as, "She just quit."

Senior forward Sophia Young said she did not know much about the situation.

"I really haven't spoken to (Ononiwu) to find out what her thoughts are and why she left," Young said.

"I guess she felt like she really didn't want to be here anymore. That's her decision," she said.

When asked if Ononiwu's departure from the team was similar to Emily Niemann's, Young said it was not the same.

Sophomore point guard Angela Tisdale refused to comment on the matter. Tisdale is Ononiwu's roommate.

"I just wish Chisa well. She just left, and she doesn't feel like she wants to play."